Six drivers were able to hold their victory swords high in Bristol Motor Speedway victory lane this past weekend, but there were even more who came up short of accomplishing their goal. Today, we open up the refrigerator to take a look at some of the “leftover” stories from the 2018 Short Track U.S. Nationals.
CRUM SNAKEBITTEN BY BRISTOL AGAIN
Jake Crum is often referred to as “The Snake,” but the Taylorsville, NC driver was the one feeling snakebitten once again at Bristol Motor Speedway.
One year removed from finishing second to Bubba Wallace at the Short Track U.S. Nationals, Crum quickly surged to the lead in this year’s Super Late Model feature. However, Crum’s time at the front was short-lived, as his engine blew after just four laps.
“I don’t know man,” Crum told Speed51.com. “That’s just my luck at Bristol. Every time I’ve come here, no matter what we’re running. Quite a while ago in the trucks, I was running sixth. Every time we come here, something happens. Last year, just ran out of time.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” Crum added. “We’ve been here all weekend, had one of the best cars and it was showing.”
NASSE CLASSY AFTER LATE-RACE DISAPPOINTMENT
When Trevor Noles cut down a tire and hit the turn four wall on Lap 94 of the Super Late Model feature, it set up a six-lap shootout for the win. Stephen Nasse lined up third on that restart, with Raphael Lessard and Stewart Friesen on the front row.
Nasse felt he had a shot to contend for the win, until he and Friesen made contact on a chaotic restart. The Florida driver settled for a 12th-place finish, five laps shy of the finish.
Nasse said he initially felt his temper rising, similar to an incident with Donnie Wilson earlier this year at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida. However, he opted to instead talk it over with Friesen and came away from the conversation satisfied with the outcome.
“I went up to him and talked,” Nasse explained. “I tried to calm down a little bit before I did. I was really mad, I’m not going to lie to you. When I was pulling off the race track, I was thinking about doing the same thing [as Pensacola], but it went through my mind that didn’t get me anywhere.
“He said his spotter didn’t say anything,” Nasse continued. “Turns out, my spotter talked to his spotter in the spotter stand and his spotter said he didn’t say anything. He said ‘Why would I say anything? It’s two laps to go and we’re supposed to be taking, not giving.’
Nasse also displayed immense respect for both Friesen and Gary Balough, who plays a large role in the Halmar Racing operation behind Friesen’s Super Late Model program.
“I told [Friesen] I really did think he was one of the biggest badasses at the track, coming from the dirt,” Nasse said. “I’ve watched him on TV and see a lot of his videos and stuff. He’s a really cool guy.”
I talked to Gary, I said, ‘You’re one of my idols, man,’” Nasse added. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff on him, read a lot of stuff on him. My uncles, Jimmy and Dave Fletcher, have all told me plenty of his stories. Coming from Florida, I’ve just heard so much about Gary Balough. I didn’t really want to go down there fighting with those guys because I have so much respect for them.”
MCCARTY TURNS NIGHT AROUND AFTER SLOW START
It’s easy to forget with the pageantry and drama when the short track stars visit The Last Great Colosseum, but the feature races throughout the weekend are also points-paying events for the various sanctioning bodies on hand. While Bobby McCarty’s seventh-place finish in Saturday’s Late Model Stock feature won’t raise eyebrows, it could be a night the Nelson Autosport team looks back on as a championship decider in October.
McCarty started out the weekend off the pace, only 15th fastest in the first practice of the Short Track U.S. Nationals on Friday. On Saturday, McCarty was much quicker, finishing in the top three in both the final practice session and qualifying. McCarty came home with a seventh-place finish, with only one championship contender (race-winner Lee Pulliam) gaining ground on McCarty in the CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour title hunt.
BARNES, SR. JOINS SON ON STREET STOCK PODIUM
This year’s top two finishers in the CRA Street Stocks feature mirrored last year’s, as Chuck Barnes, Jr. took the win over Brett Hudson. The third spot changed hands, as Barnes’ father, Chuck Barnes, Sr., took the final spot on the podium.
It had been an eventful couple of weeks for the elder Barnes, with a near-disaster of a spin during last week’s testing session as well as another spin during Sunday’s practice sessions. However, Barnes, Sr. came away with a second-place effort in qualifying and backed it up with a third-place finish, improving on his 16th-place run in 2017.
LEADERS’ CURSE FOR THE COMPACTS
Typically, race car drivers want to be leading the race, pulling away from the competition. During the Vore’s Compact Touring Series feature on Sunday morning, that was the worst place to be.
The trouble for leaders started on lap 39, when Mark Mason pounded the outside wall in turn two while running away with the lead, 11 laps shy of the finish. Derick Bradshaw inherited the lead, but slowed immediately following the restart, turning the lead over to Trent Gossar.
Gossar would lose the lead to Gary Eaton before a multi-car incident brought out the caution on Lap 41. Eaton would stumble on the ensuing restart, opening the door for eventual winner Steve Vore to take the lead for good.
KLINECT’S CHARGE ENDS ON SOUR NOTE
Stephen Klinect returned to Bristol hoping to make some positive memories after being involved in a vicious accident in last year’s Modified feature. Instead, a valiant charge through the field on Saturday evening ended 16 laps shy of the finish.
Klinect qualified 16th in the Modified field, but methodically worked his way forward. Klinect worked his way up to eighth in the first 30 laps, but slowed with a mechanical issue on Lap 34, ending his night.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos